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Abiraterone (Zytiga)

Find out what abiraterone is, how you have it and other important information about taking abiraterone for prostate cancer.

Abiraterone is a hormone therapy drug. It is a treatment for prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of your body.

You might have abiraterone if other hormone treatments are no longer working and you have no or mild symptoms but you don't need chemotherapy.

Or you might have it after you have had docetaxel chemotherapy. 

You might also have abiraterone as part of a clinical trial for early stage prostate cancer.

How it works

Prostate cancer needs testosterone (male sex hormone) to grow. To make testosterone your body produces an enzyme called cytochrome p17.

Abiraterone blocks cytochrome p17 and stops your body from making testosterone. This can slow down the growth of your cancer or shrink it. 

How you have abiraterone

Abiraterone is available as tablets that you take once a day. The usual dose is 2 tablets or 4 tablets per day.

You should swallow your tablets whole with a glass of water on an empty stomach. Take them at least one hour before food, or at least 2 hours afterwards.

You take abiraterone with a steroid called prednisolone to help reduce some of the side effects. 

Taking your tablets or capsules

You must take tablets and capsules according to the instructions your doctor or pharmacist gives you.

Whether you have a full or empty stomach can affect how much of a drug gets into your bloodstream.

You should take the right dose, not more or less.

Talk to your specialist or advice line before you stop taking a cancer drug.

If you accidentally take more abiraterone than you should, talk to your doctor or go to a hospital straight away. 

If you forget to take a dose of abiraterone, prednisone or prednisolone, take your usual dose at the normal time the following day. If you forget to take abiraterone, prednisone or prednisolone for more than one day, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

When you have abiraterone

You carry on taking it for as long as it is still working.


You have blood tests before and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines, food and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.


It is important to tell your doctor if you are taking a tablet called spironolactone.

Contraception and drug handling

This drug may have a harmful effect on a developing baby. It is important not to father a child during treatment. Talk to your doctor or nurse about contraception before having treatment if there is any chance that your partner could become pregnant. You need to use a condom and another effective birth control method. 

If you have sex with a pregnant woman, use a condom to protect the unborn child.

Abiraterone is not for use in women and can cause harm to the unborn child if it is taken by women who are pregnant. Women who are pregnant or who may be pregnant should wear gloves if they need to touch or handle abiraterone tablets. 

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

Lactose, sodium and abiraterone

Abiraterone contains a type of sugar called lactose. If you have an intolerance to some sugars, contact your doctor before taking this medicine.

Abiraterone also contains some salt (sodium). Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you are on a controlled sodium diet.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

iWantGreatCare lets patients leave feedback on their experience of taking a particular drug. The feedback is from individual patients. It is not information, or specialist medical advice, from Cancer Research UK.

Information and help

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